Sholom aleichem and welcome to Dag Gadol!
So who are you, anyway?
So glad you asked! I’m Leiah Moser, and I’m a rabbi ordained in the Reconstructionist Movement. (Yeah, I know “Reconstructionist” is kind of a mouthful. We’ll get to that a little further down the page.) As a rabbi I put a lot of emphasis on teaching (I’m particularly passionate about Talmud and the classical texts of Jewish mysticism), making Judaism a more safe and welcoming environment for LGBT folk, and thinking about how we can do a better job of recognizing neurodiversity in Jewish spaces. In addition to my rabbinical work, I am also an author and musician. You can learn more about all of the stuff I do right here on this site!
Yep! In case you were wondering, the title of my site is Hebrew for “big fish.”
*Sigh* Okay, but why “big fish?”
Good question! It’s a reference to the “big fish” that was sent by God to swallow up the prophet Jonah when he was trying to avoid the mission he’d been assigned of preaching repentance to the people of Ninveh, thus proving once and for all that you really can’t run away from your problems.
Way back in the day, before I was a rabbi, back when I was just starting to blog about Judaism, I chose this title because it reflected something fairly basic about my relationship with God — namely that sometimes the clearest and most perfect manifestation of God’s grace is when despite our own resistance we are dragged, kicking and screaming, to precisely the place we needed to be.
Sure, yeah, okay. Reconstructionism is a particular denomination within liberal Judaism that got its start as a movement based on the thought of Rabbi Mordecai Kaplan, who made a case for thinking about Judaism as an “evolving religious civilization.” What that means is that Jewish civilization, like any other social phenomenon, is not some fixed and unchanging thing but rather a complex and dynamic community that has changed throughout history in response to the spiritual and social needs of the day. This was pretty radical at the time because of the challenge it presented to the traditional notion of Torah as something eternal and unchanging, handed down by God in its entirety at Sinai and preserved intact up until the present day.
Personally, I like to think of Reconstructionist Judaism as “experimental Judaism.” Reconstructionist rabbis tend to be a little like the spiritual version of a tech startup — at the forefront of developing new approaches to Jewish practice, creating the innovations that will in time come to be adopted by other movements in response to the changing conditions of the world we live in.